The following is a press release from the Wyoming Beef Council. It was released on January 28, 2011.
After eking by the Wyoming House Ag Committee early this week, a bill that would allow for implementation of a state beef checkoff died on the House floor on Thursday, going down on its first reading by a vote of 49 to 8.
The bill would have allowed the Wyoming Livestock Board to collect an additional checkoff assessment of up to $1 per head on behalf of the Council – but only if approved by a referendum of Wyoming beef producers. Upon passage of a referendum, funds collected could have been used for checkoff promotion, research and education programs in Wyoming and to promote Wyoming cattle ranchers as stewards of the land and caretakers of livestock, wildlife, clean water and open spaces. “In a time when so much misinformation and criticism is being spread about our industry, it is painful to see the option for an industry funded self-help program be squashed,” said Spencer Ellis, chairman of the Wyoming Beef Council. “A referendum on the program may or may not have passed but when this bill was killed, the industry lost the chance to express its desire by voting.”
The bill was brought to the Joint Agriculture Public Lands and Water Resources committee by the Wyoming Stock Growers Association who was pursuing policy to call for the initiation of a state checkoff. The policy was adopted during the general membership meeting in June 2010 with near unanimous support and that support was reaffirmed December 2010. Original wording in the bill did not include a referendum but after hearing concerns in joint committee testimony industry groups including Wyoming Stock Growers, Wyoming Farm Bureau, Wyoming Beef Council, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Wyoming Agri-Business Commission met to amend the bill to better serve the policy of all organizations. The proposed amendment passed in spite of the bill failing.
Wyoming Beef Council Executive Director Ann Wittmann said that much discussion surrounding the bill was negative, misleading, and failed to communicate the self-help and grassroots qualities of checkoff programs. “The focus on what was being voted on seemed to get lost in skepticism and concern about other checkoff programs and unrelated industry issues,” said Wittmann. “Ultimately the purpose of the amended bill was to provide producers with an opportunity to vote on whether or not they wanted a Wyoming checkoff program.”
“The members of the Wyoming Beef Council are very disappointed that misinformation and negative publicity surrounding the national checkoff was used to prevent the advancement of this bill,” Wittmann said. “We have much work to do to show the grassroots producer that the program is truly a coordinated industry effort with all players working together for the benefit of those who pay.”
Source: WY Beef Council
Posted by Haylie Shipp